We live on a tropical island, and yet we crave winter.  The humidity hovers around 90%, blessing us with perpetually perfect skin, all rosy and glistening, and yet we crave the crackle of dry fallen leaves and the sharp burning of the lungs after a Colorado run.  Our island is half covered in tropical fruit farm and spice gardens, and yet we crave berries, stone fruit, and exotic dried chilis from Central America.  We live in a food paradise, can get a dimsum feast for less than $5 a person, eat spicy curries off a banana leaf for a $1 lunch, gobble the exotic flavors of Nyonya cooking for dinner, and yet we crave Fonda San Miguel weekend brunch.  OK, interior Mexican cravings totally justifiable, as for the rest of it, I think we’re a bit spoiled!

I have never considered making my own mole.  It’s the stuff of ancient Mexican grandmothers, with secrets generations deep, and certainly requires some exotic ingredients, not to mention a pestle-mortar, right?  Apparently not.  I whipped up this recipe out of a magazine’s “easy weeknight dinners” section with ingredients that are all easily found anywhere, with surprisingly excellent results.  As Tim noted, every mole is different (very true), so I am claiming this as my hand me down legacy secret recipe.  Note: I doubled the chicken and had this as plain chicken mole the first night, turning the leftovers into the enchiladas for the second go around.  Enjoy!

Mole Enchiladas (from Eating Well)

  • 4 chicken thighs (or 8, to make it for two meals)
  • salt and pepper
  • canola oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder (for making chili soup, not straight chile)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 8-oz can tomato puree
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp peanut or almond butter
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 2 oz cheddar cheese, grated
  • toasted sesame seeds and sliced avocado, for serving
  1. Heat a non-stick pan over med-high heat.  Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Add a thin layer of oil to the pan, and sear the chicken about 3-4 minutes per side, until starting to color.  Remove to a plate.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and add a bit more oil to the pan.  Add garlic and spices, stirring one minute until fragrant.  Add tomatoes, stock, chocolate and nut butter.  Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture begins to bubble.  Reduce heat to low and add chicken and any juice from the plate.  Continue to cook, stirring and turning chicken to prevent burning, another 10-15 minutes, until chicken is fully cooked (chicken with bones will take longer).
  3. Remove chicken from sauce and allow to cool.  Shred meat into small pieces.  Add shredded cheese to chicken.
  4. Create your enchilada casserole by first putting a thin layer of mole into a baking tray.  Then roll the chicken-cheese mixture in the tortillas and placing seam side down.  If you need to do a couple layers, put mole between them.  Finish up with a generous slather of mole, watered down if necessary to spread.  (Especially if you prepared the mole a day ahead, you may need to thin the sauce a bit).
  5. Bake, covered with foil, at 350 about 20-30 minutes until heated through.  Uncover and sprinkle with more cheese for the last 5 minutes.  Serve with sesame seeds and sliced avocado.  Pretend it’s Friday afternoon at El Chile, and make up a margarita as well.